Autism for Writers

DP and I had a discussion about autism the other day. One of our friends uses the word “autism” as a code for socially clueless and emotionally idiotic (this is usually when she’s talking about her father, just to put it into context). One of our nephews is autistic, and it’s a disorder that DP, in particular, is trying to understand.

In the spirit of inquiry, I took an online autism quiz. I am inherently incapable of feeling good about my answers. When faced with the statement “I enjoy social chit-chat” I think “Yes, I enjoy social chit-chat, but only with people I like, and if I’m feeling lonely. I’d prefer to talk about books or something. What is social chit-chat anyway? And who really enjoys this stuff? I’m so confused.”

Today’s epiphany is that a bunch of the questions would put me squarely on the autism spectrum if I answered them when thinking about writing. Let’s take the first question.

“I’d rather do things on my own than with others.”

Have you ever tried to write in a group? Enough said.

“3. If I try to imagine something, I find it very easy to create a picture in my mind”

Fiction writers, please raise your hand.

“12. I tend to notice details that others do not.”

Poets, raise your hand.

“13. I would rather go to a library than a party.”


And here’s the one that struck home with me.

“People say I go on and on about the same thing.”

That, my friends, is a writing career, it’s the obsession about the same themes, it’s about talking about writing when maybe you should be talking about something else.

What do you go on and on about?


6 responses to “Autism for Writers

  1. “I tend to notice small sounds when others do not.” I didn’t take this quiz, but the some of the questions …… hmmm.

    I’m pretty sure I have a split personality: half happily isolated, half social butterfly. That said, there’s nothing worse than social chit chat. “Where to you work? How many kids do you have? Been on any trips lately? etc…” When I have to play my corporate wife role, this constant chatter just about kills me.

  2. I think that anyone who truly enjoys social chit-chat is just lonely. I mean, what is that, anyway? It’s just an awkward banter to waste time while we wait for our drinks at the bar or for the train to come or our sale to ring in at the register. It’s just a silence-filler, that (if anything) shows how awkward we really are.

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